Tonic Water

Tedious Medicine

Sick and tired of drinking old-fashioned, store-bought tonic water? Have no fear: This month’s Imbibe teaches you the four-step, six-ingredient process required to home-brew your own tonic.

The article is written by Kevin Ludwig, owner of Park Kitchen in Portland, Oregon. The problem? Commercial tonic water bears little resemblance to the classic tonic of the 1850s. It also features preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. The solution? Boiling sugar and water until it dissolves, adding powdered cinchona bark, citric acid, lime zest and juice and lemongrass, simmering for 25 minutes, cooling the stuff, and the straining “many” times through coffee filters or cheesecloth.

Apparently cinchona bark is some finely powdered stuff.

The result? A brownish-red liquid that looks a little like turkey stock, which can be stored in the fridge for “up to several weeks.”

The first paragraph of the three-paragraph article that accompanies the recipe is primarily historical whinging about how terrible quinine tastes. Combine this with the dread-inducing prospect of having to strain brown liquid a buhzillion times, and the entire piece begs the question: how could this possibly be worth the effort?